Korean Air links with Delta over the Pacific

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Korean Air links with Delta over the Pacific

Korean Air and Delta Air Lines inked an agreement to form a joint venture on trans-Pacific routes.

A signing ceremony was held at the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles on Friday, as a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding signed in Incheon in March.

“The two companies’ cooperation through the joint venture agreement will greatly improve customer benefits including more convenient schedules for flight connection,” said Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Hanjin Group, which Korean Air is a part of. “The partnership will also contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of Incheon International Airport as a transfer hub.”

The joint venture is not a separate corporation. But the companies will act as a single entity on trans-Pacific routes, sharing both the profits and costs. A similar joint venture was started in 2009 between Delta and Air France-KLM Group for trans-Atlantic routes.

The agreement offers customers expanded travel options from both airlines’ flight networks along with shared facilities and mileage programs. The two will offer a combined service network connecting more than 290 American and 80 Asian cities. New connections for flights will be crafted by the airlines to shorten transfer times and offer more affordable fares between cities.

Korea is expected to benefit as more travelers could use Incheon as a transfer point.

“We believe the joint venture could greatly contribute to making Incheon the transportation hub of Northeast Asia,” the Korean airline said in a statement.

Joint ventures between American Airlines and Japan Airlines and United Airlines and All Nippon Airways moved a substantial share of transfer demand to Japan.

All Nippon Airways CEO Shinya Katanozaka said last year that the number of passengers to and from the United States doubled in the five years since it began a joint venture with United. Similar benefits have been reported from joint ventures between American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia on trans-Atlantic services.

The two airline’s agreement, however, needs approval by the Korean government. A Korean Air spokesperson said the process will be taken care of as soon as possible.

Korean Air and Delta have built a close relationship as founding members of the global airline alliance Sky Team. Delta operates to 325 destinations over 60 countries on six continents while Korean Air has services to 129 cities in 46 countries.

BY KIM JEE-HEE[kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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